‘Better late than never’ is a well-worn phrase and it can be perfectly applied to each half of this encounter as Ilkeston progressed in the FA Cup.
The Robins left it until the dying moments of each period to score the goals that would ultimately decide the tie and lay to rest the demons of last season’s FA Cup run which ended at the first hurdle.
The winner came from Rob Duffy, the Ilkeston striker who nearly wasn’t one earlier in the week but after opting against a move to Goole promptly netted in the 89th minute to send the Robins home happy.
The league clash between the two sides just seven days earlier was a largely frustrating affair but although this match was a better spectacle, the home fans may not agree having seen their side struggle to create anything of note in the second-half, not helped by injuries forcing them to play players out of position.
After Ilkeston’s Che Adams had seen a shot beaten away by keeper Jon Kennedy early on and Matlock’s James Ashmore found the hands of Jordan Smith with a free-kick, the hosts took the lead on ten minutes.
Former Robin Jason Stokes found space on the right and his ball to the back post was met by Corey Gregory on the volley and his shot clattered off defender Jack Lane on the line and found the net.
The rest of the half saw mostly half chances and long shots that didn’t threaten either goal, Adams and Duffy for Ilkeston and Matlock’s Josh Meade and Liam Needham with the best of them.
Kane Richards got round Kennedy on 43 minutes but the angle was tight and he put his shot over the defenders on the line and also the crossbar, but it was he who would get an equaliser which was as fortunate as it was crucial.
The first element of fortune was when it was scored - referee Robbie Dadley having allowed over five minutes of stoppage time for reasons best known to himself. Then came the goal itself which saw Callum Chettle’s shot from 20 yards strike Richards, completely wrong-footing Kennedy with the ball rolling apologetically into the net seconds before the half-time whistle blew.
That gave the Robins the impetus and momentum to then control the second-half.
Clear cut chances still weren’t that plentiful. Adams, who again showed that despite only being 18-years-old he looks to have a very promising future ahead of him, forced Kennedy into a couple of saves low down while James Reid saw a free-kick also held by the Gladiators goalkeeper.
Such was Ilkeston’s dominance it only seemed a matter of time before they would score but as that time ebbed away a replay at the New Manor Ground instead began to look more likely.
That was until Ashmore gave the ball away in his own half and David Morgan spread the ball out to Reid on the left. His cross to the back post was well controlled by Adams who beat his man, got to the byline and pulled the ball back to Duffy eight yards out and although his connection wasn’t particularly true it was good enough to beat a defender on the line and send the visiting hoards of supporters into ecstasy.
Progress was secured, with Conference North side Solihull Moors now set to visit in the next round.
Saturday, September 13, 2014:
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Adam Yates 3 Phil Roe (Alex Hewitt 65) 4 Corey Gregory (Sam Robinson 87) 5 David Haggerty (Leon Osborne 46) 6 Oscar Radford 7 Jason Stokes 8 Josh Meade 9 Danny Holland 10 James Ashmore 11 Liam Needham (c). Subs not used: Lavell White, Matt Andrews, Matty Leese
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Luke Shaw 3 James Reid 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Jack Lane 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle (Kieran Wallace 92) 9 Rob Duffy 10 Kane Richards 11 Che Adams. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Mike Williams, Ashley Hunter, Danny Gordon, Aaron Myles, Eli Bako
Att: 417 Ref: Robbie Dadley
Star Robin: Che Adams
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@_CLPhotography)